Edge computing trends in 2023

2023 looks like being the year of the edge.
8 November 2022

More edge computing, more capabilities at a distance. Isaac Brekken / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Edge computing (data processing on the peripheries of a network, as close to the data source as possible) is a technological approach that has been growing in popularity in business circles over the course of the last decade. But it has really begun to go mainstream since the emergence of unstructured data as a force to be reckoned with. And while the economic future may be uncertain, one thing looks distinctly likely: edge computing is set to make a much more significant mark in 2023. In fact, by 2023, it’s estimated that more than 50% of new enterprise IT infrastructures will be deployed at the edge.

But why? And perhaps more importantly, how is edge computing likely to impact the way businesses operate in 2023? There are a handful of edge computing trends that seem destined to become daily realities across the next 12 months.

A tsunami of data

Did we mention unstructured data? That has become a real issue – all the data that doesn’t fit neatly into a database has to be found, dealt with, and organized somehow, and in particular, that rise in unstructured data has been linked with the rise and rise of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Forecasters say we could be looking at a worldwide generation – generation on top of all the existing data – of around 175 to 180 zettabytes (that’s 175 trillion gigabytes in old money) of data per year across 2023, 2024, and 2025. All that data, both structured and unstructured, particularly from IoT devices, will need processing, and the logical way to deal with IoT data is on the edge, rather than pulling it into the central system for processing and mining for profitable insights.

It’s worth putting the rise of IoT devices into perspective. By the end of 2022, there are expected to be some 13.1 billion IoT connected devices in the world. By the end of 2023, that number is expected to be around 15.1 billion.

There are a little under 8 billion human beings on the planet right now, and by no means all of them have even one IoT device. You should feel free to do the math.

IoT devices represent a data tsunami of staggering proportions, and the best – in fact, the only effective – way of mining those devices for data insights is on the edge.

And there are only going to be more of them in 2023.

The speed of 5G

With the exception of people who believe 5G fries your brain or causes Covid, there’s a single, simple fact that everyone understands about 5G – it means faster data processing.

Having finally emerged from the deadly Covid era, many big technology nations, including both the US and China, have emerged with powerful 5G networks. That means more edge computing will be possible closer to the data source than ever before. How that breaks down in terms of individual companies and sectors is yet to be discovered – even by those companies and sectors.

But the ability to deliver significantly more edge computing at speed is likely to act as the keys to a whole new kingdom of business functionality for the technology. If you haven’t started thinking yet about how your business could benefit from edge computing and 5G – your competitors may very well have.

Start thinking about how to maximize the effectiveness of the technology combination right now – from rapid data collection to improving digital experiences at a distance with super-low latency – to make the most of 2023’s opportunities.

Improved agri-tech

Agri-tech has been growing in importance for years, but 2023 is likely to bring a whole new dimension to what is possibly on farms, both large and small. The logic is obvious – even small farms are large spaces, frequently spread out. Better edge computing means you can intensify the efficiency of your agri-tech, processing data at a distance and delivering better, more economical farming outcomes.

Faster machine learning on-site

Edge computing allows machine learning at remote locations to be feasible in the sort of timeframes previously only available to non-ML applications. If 2023 is the year when edge computing becomes relatively ubiquitous at last, it will normalize machine learning at speed and at a distance, allowing staff and customers to trust in the uses and results of machine learning and AI in ways they previously wouldn’t have, by cutting down the latency in the process to acceptable levels.

The non-cloud cloud

With inflationary pressures bearing down on every business, and cloud storage becoming increasingly expensive (especially given the need to process unstructured data, often across multicloud environments), the drive to find less expensive alternatives to the cloud will be stronger in 2023 that it has been until now. Using edge computing keeps data processing away from central infrastructure silos, and so it can help defer the costs of otherwise necessary cloud storage.

The year on the edge

Whether your company is heavily focused on customer data capture, or whether the bonus of hugely reduced latency through the 5G-edge computing combination will lighten the financial burdens on your company, 2023 is likely to bring you significant business benefits – either speeding up what you already do, or helping you expand the range of what you can do on the edge that’s new, and what you can do on the edge that’s more than you’ve ever done before.